Parents' Guide to

Chinatown

By Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Great hardboiled detective film is very violent.

Movie R 1974 131 minutes
Chinatown Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 18 parent reviews

age 13+

Incredibly complex brain exercise can be carefully solved like a mystery, and it’s fun, but mixed in with some mature elements which are tame to todays standards

Chinatown (1974) follows a private investigator tasked with following a man in hopes to catch him cheating for his client, which leads him down an unexpected rabbit hole of murder, deceit and mystery. It’s an extremely complex film, even for most adults, and it is extremely recommended and much more fun to either watch it with a friend, a family member or a parent. As for the mature content, the film has some but not an excessive or strong amount. There is a few brief instances of language, some sexual imagery/nudity and violent scenes which are occasionally bloody and unexpected. VIOLENCE: MODERATE A man’s drowned corpse washes up in water. He has a hogtie around his chest and his face is petrified. Several corpses are shown in a morgue. Nothing graphic or gory is seen, but it is a little uneasy. A man has a knife stuck into his nose and then flicked up, slicing his nostril open and squirting blood out all over his face. He falls to the ground and blood goes out into his hand. For the rest of the film he is shown with a bandage on his nose which is occasionally bloody, and then with stitches. This is a very unexpectedly bloody scene, and is one of the more gross images. Several men get into a scuffle with punching and shoving. Eventually one of the men is punched and knocked out. A man is repeatedly punched and kneed in the stomach. Then, he has his head slammed into a window or such object multiple times with loud banging noises accompanying it. He is then repeatedly kicked more and beaten to the floor where he is left to lay. A woman is shown lying dead in her kitchen. There is no blood accompanying this. A woman is repeatedly slapped across the face and then thrown into a couch. A woman is shown with a large black eye implying her husband beat her. While a woman drives away her car, many people shoot guns at it. Eventually, the car stops driving and begins beeping followed by an agonizing scream in horror. The man approach the car and find the woman dead with a massive gaping bullet hole in her eye and blood splattered all over the seat of the car with her daughter in the passenger seat screaming in terror. One of the woman’s murderers creepily close her eyes and pull her out of the car while another man sets her body back into the seat to stage the scene, when he does this her head is shown completely covered in blood for around one second. This is very disturbing and bloody for a few moments, and is easily the most graphic moment in the film. LANGUAGE: MILD 1 use of fuck, a few uses of shit and asshole, 2+ uses of chinaman, some uses of damn, hell and ass. Screw is used numerous times in one scene as a term for having sex. SEXUAL CONTENT: MILD The opening shot of the film shows several photographs of a man and a woman having sex. No nudity is shown aside from thighs and the side of the buttocks, however they are shown in a few different positions and are clearly having sex despite this not being graphic or all that crude. The woman’s husband looks at these images and rages at the sight of them. A man states a prolonged sexual joke referring to “screwing” people like the Chinese. He states that Chinese people wait in between sessions of screwing, and that a man tried to screw like them by screwing his wife, going outside, screwing her again and again until she was “sore”. Sex is implied when a man and a woman are shown lying in bed together. When the woman gets up, her breasts and nipples are visible. When the man gets up his bare buttocks are also seen very briefly. This scene isn't overly sexual at all. It is heard that a woman was raped by her father, and at the end of the film it is assumed this will happen again to that woman’s daughter. OVERALL: 13+ for some disturbing images, brief nudity and sexuality
age 2+

bad

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (18 ):
Kids say (21 ):

Roman Polanski's film is a visually lavish trip back into the hardboiled detective genre. The gorgeous costumes and harsh lighting help to capture the seediness lurking behind legitimate society in 1930s Los Angeles. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognized the film with Oscar nominations in major performance, design, and technical categories. Robert Towne (Shampoo, Mission: Impossible) ultimately brought home the Academy Award for his original screenplay. (The writing process had been a contentious one, as Towne had originally planned for a happy ending.) The film was intended to be the first of a trilogy, about the water company, gas company, and a freeway project respectively. Ultimately, only one sequel (The Two Jakes) found its way into production; Nicholson would go on to direct and star in that film.

Movie Details

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